Friday, June 18, 2010

Building Swipe Cards, TiVo, Credit Cards, Star Trib Online ... Oh My

I started off looking up digital footprint through the high school's library (something tells me someone has a time stamp and my IP address saying what time I used the database ... but of course I wouldn't have thought of it had I not given up on the databases). However, I didn't think reading an article about the new crime sleuths using digital footprints to solve a murder was quite what I was supposed to be researching (don't worry I bookmarked it for perusal later ... what can I say it sounded fascinating). Alas I digress. So I went to the old standby, Google, in between carrying on a Facebook conversation with another teacher about a book. As I quickly scanned my options and the fourth one down the list caught my attention. While it isn't an article, it was an interactive activity that allowed you to examine how we leave digital footprints with our everyday activities. So of course I quickly clicked on it and was astounded. And here I thought, I was pretty aware of the ways we are tracked. I was wrong.

Koppel on Discovery: Your Digital Footprint did not talk about what we would find if we googled ourselves, but it showed the path we leave behind that allow others to track us (no wonder sleuths are using it to solve crimes). I estimate that by 6:15 a.m. on a school day, I have already begun to be tracked for the day. Interesting enough the first time I walked through the choices I only scored a 27, which is a moderate trail. It starts off with how you get your news, to how you get to work, to going through toll booths (ok we have a decided lack of tollbooths in MN, but then I thought about when I wait at a light. Some of the stop lights record traffic) to how I go into the school building (swipe my card of course, heaven forbid I take the long way to my classroom and get some exercise)to filling up with gas, going out to eat, watching TiVo, etc.

Of course then I thought about the 27 being moderate. To me that doesn't feel moderate at all, so what determines moderate and what exactly does moderate mean. Is it because one option I picked didn't allow someone to track my movements. The only reason I picked that is because none of the other options fit. I probably wouldn't have straightened my desk, but would have went online to find something for class, or created a worksheet, test, PowerPoint or some other lesson for class. (time stamped when I save it). I so knew that businesses asked for our phone numbers or zip codes to collect data, but to some extent, I never realized my role or how all this information was being collected about me. Or maybe I didn't care to know. The whole ignorance is bliss quote playing out.

My brain is on overload thinking about this so Part II will have to wait until tomorrow.

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